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How Long After You Eat Can You Workout?

author image Leigh Good
Leigh Good has been writing for magazines and newspapers for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in numerous print and online publications. Good has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Georgia State University.
How Long After You Eat Can You Workout?
A couple eating breakfast in their apartment before working out. Photo Credit sodapix sodapix/F1online/Getty Images

Finding the correct time to eat small meals and snacks is just as important as choosing healthy foods to fuel your body before, during and after a workout. A personal trainer or nutritionist can help you choose a meal plan, including what foods to eat and when to eat them, that will help you reach your personal fitness goals.


Make it a practice to eat large meals at least three to 4 hours before working out. If you have a smaller sized meal, you can work out two to 3 hours after eating. Light snacks are typically fine when eaten right before and even during exercise. When you are done working out, you can enjoy a meal immediately.


By waiting to work out for a few hours after eating a meal, you can avoid getting stomach pain, cramping and diarrhea.. Eating lots of food right before exercising can also cause you to feel heavy and tired because your digestive system and the muscles you use to exercise are competing for energy. However, it's important to eat something before you work out and avoid skipping meals. Passing on a meal before you exercise could cause you to become weak or slow your reaction times.


Healthy carbohydrates are the best foods to eat before exercising. Get your carbohydrates from whole-grain cereals, pastas and breads as well as fresh vegetables. Avoid eating foods very high in fiber and fructose right before working out. Eating high-fiber legumes before exercising could cause you to develop uncomfortable gas, while fruit that is high in fiber and fructose could cause you to experience diarrhea after working out.


You should avoid eating fatty foods right before working out since fat takes longer to digest and can lead to stomach upset during exercise. Although fat and protein are important parts of any diet, it's more important that you fuel your body with healthy carbohydrates right before working out.

Expert Insight

In an article on the ABC News website, sports nutritionist, Molly Kimball, suggests developing a schedule for eating and exercising that works for you. Kimball claims that you may be able to eat a meal and then work out immediately afterward without experiencing stomach upset or other ill effects. Try doing a test run by eating a meal and then performing moderate exercise. If you experience stomach cramps, stop exercising and try again later.

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